MTV Is at Muddy War with 'Buckwild' Because It Refuses to Die
MTV will cancel the show, a little over a week after of one the show's star cast members died of carbon monoxide poisoning. But does a network known for its questionable taste in reality TV owe it to the rest of the kids to keep the show on the air? That's what Buckwild's show runner is arguing, vehemently, as he vows to keep filming.
Update 11:57 a.m.: MTV has issued their statement, saying that they have chosen not to go ahead with the season because of Gandee's death.
After careful consideration, MTV will not be moving forward with season two of 'Buckwild' in West Virginia. We love the cast and the show and this was not an easy decision, but given Shain's tragic passing and essential presence on the show, we felt it was not appropriate to continue without him. Instead, we are working on a meaningful way to pay tribute to his memory on our air and privately.
Original: MTV, creator of Snooki and promoter of pregnant 16-year-olds, has reportedly decided to draw the line at Buckwild, and plans to announce its cancelation Wednesday—a little over a week after of one the show's star cast members died of carbon monoxide poisoning. But does a network known for its questionable taste in reality TV owe it to the rest of the kids on the show to keep this particularly questionable piece of programming on the air? That's what Buckwild's show runner is arguing, vehemently, as he vows to keep filming the muddy "truth" about West Virginia teenagers.
"This is the network that has shows about teen pregnancy. They'll stick by a show that allows you to abandon a child, but a kid dies by accident doing what he does for a living [mudding] and they cancel the show?" Buckwild producer J.P. Williams said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last night. "There's something that smells of s--- here on every level."
Williams, who was responsible for the day-to-day management of eight reality stars, is no doubt angry. Yes, MTV has taken his show off the air, and that probably hurts his wallet. But the death last week of Shain Gandees — and especially the show's recent cancellation — means the high-rated Buckwild won't create the new Snooki, who parlayed her Jersey Shore debauchery into $32,000 appearance fees, according to The New York Times—some of which goes to her booker and managers. And now Williams is obviously trying to put a moral conscience on the cancellation, as if MTV was driven by integrity. And he's got a point: MTV's most successful programming these days, with the possible exception of Awkward, tends to involve drinking, partying, pregnancy, and terrible decisions—sometimes all three at once.
But arguing your exploitative show should still be on MTV because other exploitative shows are still on MTV, well, that's not the most convincing argument in the history of cable television. Especially when you've got a dead man and a ditch in West Virginia.
Buckwild worked on two levels, the first being—let's call it admiration. There are probably some impressionable youths who think these kids from West Virginia are some super species of human with indomitable livers and an irrepressible desire to dive face-first into muddy streams. Those youths probably think that the Buckwild gang, like the 16-year-old pregnant girls they watched a few hours earlier, should be emulated.
The other way to watch Buckwild was to laugh at the cast because they were seemingly half a world—though probably not much of America—away. West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin was one of the show's biggest opponents, and from the beginning of the network's promotion of its new hit in the making, he was upset not just at the portrayal of the cast but also at the people cashing in on them—namely, Williams and MTV:
It’s a shame that people are making money off so-called entertainment when they should be teaching people how to be more responsible adults— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) December 5, 2012
"My job is to protect these kids," Williams told THR, insisting that he plans to continue shooting the show and possibly pursue a feature film. It's unclear how much non-MTV airtime the new Buckwild will spend on Gandee's death or how much Salwa Amin, the cast member who was arrested for heroin and oxycodone possession in February, will be featured. "This will get ugly," Williams said. Presumably he's talking about the fight with MTV, and not his show, though it's easy to get confused.